Textile fans fear inflation during London Fashion Week

LONDON (AFP) – Textile prices, like many commodities, are soaring due to the post-pandemic upsurge in demand and soaring energy and transport costs, the industry
said the experts.

Cotton, linen, silk and wool, as well as petroleum-derived synthetics, have faced soaring prices in recent months, also spurred by the crisis in the global supply chain.

As a result, searing inflation is now a major talking point at the industry’s showpiece of London Fashion Week, which runs until Thursday.

The price increases represent a new challenge for the industry which has already been hit by both Brexit and the Covid-19 health emergency.

“The textile and clothing industry has seen an impressive surge in cotton prices,” European textile producers’ association Euratex said in a statement sent to AFP.

“The restart of global activity in 2021 and the increased demand from the textile industry have accelerated the mechanism of (market) tension on raw materials,” he added.
“This has led to a shortage and an increase in the cost of materials.”

Textile fabrics in Terrassa near Barcelona. PHOTO: AFP

Cotton, which had already jumped nearly 50% last year, peaked earlier this month at $1.29 per pound, reaching a level not seen in 2011.

Organic cotton from India’s leading producer saw strong demand due to low stocks.

The price of wool and linen, meanwhile, rebounded between September 2020 and June 2021, after falling for almost three years.

The industry was also spooked by the exorbitant cost of oil.

“The increase in oil prices has affected the prices of synthetic fibres…because these are produced from petroleum-based chemicals or petrochemicals,” Euratex noted.

Oil threatened to surge above $100 a barrel last week due to simmering tensions between Ukraine and major crude producer Russia.

“The continued rise in oil prices gives momentum because it raises the price of synthetic fibers that compete with cotton,” added Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank.

The price of man-made or synthetic fibers – such as acrylic, nylon and polyester – has skyrocketed.

Textiles also face the same tangled supply chains that have plagued economies around the world.

Retailers and manufacturers will therefore struggle to meet the rebound in demand, particularly for cotton, commentators said.

“Demand is strong amid inflationary concerns and logistical challenges that are making it harder for global buyers to source cotton anywhere,” Price Group analyst Jack Scoville told AFP. .

Importers and exporters face a huge spike in transportation costs as the reopening of economies creates feverish demand for container shipping.

Rogie Sussman Faber, owner of Vogue Fabrics in the Chicago area, told AFP that transportation was their biggest problem.

“Here in the United States (US), we are more affected by the sharp rise in shipments than by the price of materials,” Faber said.

Further transport from the port of Chicago adds to this heavy load, mirroring transit problems seen elsewhere.

“Since Covid began, we’ve seen a drop in trucker numbers, and transit companies have raised prices to cover fuel costs and overtime (and) bonuses,” Faber noted.

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